Meningitis: Senate directs Health Ministry to make vaccine free in public hospitals

The Senate on Tuesday asked the Federal Ministry of Health to make vaccines for meningitis which has claimed scores of lives in the country available for free at all public hospitals in the country.

It urged the ministry, the National Centre for Disease Control and other relevant agencies to work with the World Health Organisation to acquire sufficient vaccines for Nigerians.

Over 300 people have lost their lives to the outbreak of meningitis, with the deaths spread across several states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

On Monday, the Federal Government said it had no vaccine for the type of meningitis currently ravaging parts of the country.

The Chief Executive Officer/National Coordinator, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, made this known to the Senate Committee on Primary Health and Communicable Diseases.

This came two days after the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, disclosed in a statement that the WHO and the United Kingdom had donated 1.3 million meningitis vaccines to Nigeria.

The current meningitis outbreak is believed to have started in November 2016.

Senate Committee Meets With CDC Over Meningitis Outbreak
The Director General Center for Disease Control Chikwe Iheakweazu, has announced that reactive vaccination for meningitis is to commence in Zamfara state from Wednesday April 5.
This is in response to the meningitis outbreak which has led to the death of 328 people across the country, with Zamfara state recording the highest number of deaths.

Speaking at a meeting with the Senate Committee on Primary Health Care, Mr Iheakweazu lamented that his organization has been dealing with the problem of insufficient funds, as the agency’s 2016 budget was not sufficient to effectively handle the recent outbreak of meningitis in the country.

He asked the National Assembly to intervene in the area of providing access to vaccination for meningitis.

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